The diversity of food in Brazil, especially in its big cities, is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Brazil. Thanks to a diverse population resulting from former immigrants from the Middle East, Asia, and Europe and slaves from western Africa, Brazilian food is fun mix of flavors and traditions.
Any trip to Brazil should include what is perhaps the most traditional meal of this region of Brazil: feijoada. This feast of black beans stewed with pork, rice, oranges, collard greens, and farofa (a side dish made from toasted manioc, which adds texture to the meal) is traditionally served on Saturdays for lunch. Brazilians love to enjoy this meal with a drink, especially a caipirinha or caipirovska (the former made with sugarcane rum and the latter with vodka) or a chopp (pilsner-style beer).
For a complete cultural experience, look for restaurants with live samba bands performing during lunch.
Rio de Janeiro has a huge number of restaurants of all types, from cheap fast food joints to mid-priced buffets and elegant, expensive options to please any foodie. The following 6 restaurants should give visitors a good start to Rio's amazing food scene.
Rio Minho: Rio's Oldest Restaurant
This restaurant in Rio's downtown is considered the oldest restaurant in the city; it's been serving customers since 1884. The architecture of the colonial building reminds visitors of the city's history. Here you will receive attentive service and sample delicious seafood dishes, including the sopa Leáo Veloso and bouillabaisse marselhesa.
Rua do Ouvidor 10, Rio de Janeiro. Closed Sundays. Serves lunch only.
Bar Luiz: An Old German Favorite
Bar Luiz has been open for more than 128 years! This place is known by locals for its chopp (draft beer, pronounced "shop"), which some claim is the best beer in the city and pub food like plates of bratwurst with potato salad. The interior of Bar Luiz reminds visitors of the city's former days, with old wooden tables and photographs decorating the walls.
Rua da Carioca 39, Rio de Janeiro. Closed Sundays. Open until 4:00 on Saturdays and Mondays, 8:00 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays.
Nomangue: Seafood restaurant in the Copacabana area
Nomangue is known for its seafood specialties, especially dishes from the Northeast of Brazil, where seafood reigns. You can't go wrong here with all the delicious choices, but you shouldn't miss the moqueca, the traditional seafood stew from Bahia made with a sauce of coconut, tomato, and palm oil.
Rua Sa Ferreira 25, Rio de Janeiro. Open for lunch and dinner.
Casa da Feijoada: Where to eat feijoada in the Ipanema area
In Brazil, feijoada is traditionally served on Saturdays, sometimes on Wednesdays, for lunch, but at Casa da Feijoada, you can try this national dish anytime. As mentioned above, feijoada (pronounced fay-zhoh-AH-dah) is a bean and meat stew served with rice, collard greens, oranges, and farofa. Here you can choose the type of meat you'd like inside, although if you're unsure, waiters will bring you feijoada with sausage and dried meat (without more adventurous choices like pig's feet).
Brazilians like to enjoy their feijoada with a caipirinha (pronounced kai-pih-REE-nyah). Here you can choose the traditional way, made with cachaça (rum made from sugarcane) and lime, or with a variety of other fruits, including strawberries (morango) or passion fruit (maracuja).
Typical Brazilian desserts, such as quindim, are also served.
Rua Prudente de Morais 10, Rio de Janeiro
New Natural: Healthy Eating in the Ipanema Area
Natural and vegetarian restaurants are a popular choice in Brazil's big cities. This buffet uses all-natural and organic products. Vegetarians will be pleased by the many meatless options, but some white meat is served as well. A nice selection of healthy fruit juices is also available.
Rua Barão da Torre 169, Rio de Janeiro
Porcão: The Ultimate Churrascaria in the Botafogo Area
You've probably heard about the churrascaria (pronounced shoo-ha-ska-REE-ah). This type of restaurant is where hungry Brazilians go to eat lots and lots of meat. Typically, a churrascaria will offer tasty appetizers, a buffet of salads and other dishes like pasta and sushi, and freshly grilled cuts of beef, chicken hearts, grilled pineapple, and fish.
Porcão offers the ultimate Brazilian churrascaria experience. The service is attentive, and the buffet is huge and includes enough meatless options that even vegetarians can eat here. This restaurant is part of a chain, but this location with huge windows and a view to Sugarloaf is the best choice.
Children under 6 eat free, and children aged 6–11 eat for half price.
Parque do Flamengo, Av. Infante Dom Henrique s/n, Rio de Janeiro. Open Monday through Saturday 12:00 to 11:30 p.m., Sundays and holidays 12:00-10:00 p.m.